A lot of us Brits enjoy tucking into a hearty dish of fish and chips, particularly on a Friday night. Sure, it’s tempting to pop down to your local chippy – and there are some brilliant ones around offering sustainably sourced fish and super-crispy chips.
But it’s just as simple to make your own fish and chips. Craving this incredible British fast-food for tea tonight? Check out our guide on how to make the perfect fish and chips from the comfort of your home.
Pick the Perfect Fish
Let’s be honest. The star of the plate is the fish. Cod or haddock are good choices. Haddock is a little sweeter in taste than cod, but slightly thicker in texture.
Or, if you’re up for alternative sustainable fish, consider hake fillets (they need to roughly 200g).
Certain species of fish are incredibly popular, meaning they’re becoming pretty scarce in the sea. As a result, they’re being fished faster than they can naturally be replaced.
To prevent over-fishing, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have launched the MSC blue fish label in the UK. This is to encourage people to cook at home and also to get chefs opting for sustainable fish in restaurants. So, consider plumping for a fish carrying the sustainably sourced label.
Batter It Right
Arguably one of the best components of fish and chips is the batter. Actually, the batter that coats the fish can make a massive difference to the whole experience, but it really depends on your taste buds.
Essentially, fish batter is flour mixed with water, but some choose to use sparkling water and try out different flours to alter its texture. Others like seasoning theirs with a little salt, while others will throw in some beer or herbs for an extra pop of flavour.
You need to get rid of all the lumps in the batter mix. But don’t overwhisk or you run the risk of wiping all the gluten out. What you want to do is make sure your batter is nice and thin. Its main function is as a protective shell for the fish, enabling it to steam while it cooks.
Equally important is getting the temperature right. You want the batter to be as cold as possible, so pop it back in the fridge once made. Following a gluten-free diet? You can still enjoy fish and chips – just grab some gluten-free flour or beer at the supermarket.
Frying is Everything
The frying process has to be just right. Make sure you get the temperature spot on when it comes to frying your fish. And choose a decent container to fry it in, too. A deep saucepan is ideal, as you want to fill it with plenty of oil, so it covers your fish.
In terms of oil temperature, it needs to be super-hot at 185˚C. And it’s best to steer clear of oils high in polyunsaturated fat. Vegetable oil is best. Or go the whole hog and use beef dripping to give you a totally one-off taste experience.
Once you’ve decided on your perfect batter, pop the fish in the mixture, coating it evenly. Make sure you let any excess batter trickle off. Next, gently place the fish in the pan. The frying time will depend on the size of your fish – but usually, it takes about five minutes.
What’s not to love about proper chips? They’re so deliciously chunky. And just like roast potatoes, a lot of chippies use Maris Pipers, as they’re known as chipping potatoes. Because they’re low in sugar, they don’t go brown, and the end result is a super-crispy chip that’s fluffy on the inside.
Initially, chips should be blanched in a high-quality oil at 140˚C until they have a slight bit of give but are still firm .
Take the chips out of the oil and put to one side for 10 minutes. Then fire the temperature up to 180˚C, then continue to fry the chips until golden brown.
No time to make the chips? Cheat a bit with shake-shake fries by McCain. They only take around 15 minutes to bake. And they’re as good as homemade, since you get to do the seasoning yourself. Just add the sea salt and black pepper to the bag, then shake and cook.
While the popular sides for fish and chips are mushy peas and tartare sauce, there are other components coming onto the scene. There’s been a big increase in the number of people choosing curry sauce rather than mushy peas in the past couple of years, particularly with the younger generation.
If there’s one thing to remember, make sure it’s this: don’t drench your fish and chips in salt and vinegar. The plainer you make it, the more delicious, natural flavours you’ll taste.
That said, coleslaw makes a fabulous side. Be sure to add a sprinkle of fennel – it really adds an extra hit of flavour.
For the homemade tartare sauce, whizz up some garden peas, fresh mint, butter, salt and lemon juice. And for an unbeatable finish, don’t forget some sliced bread and butter for a chip sandwich.
Try out the below perfect fish and chips recipe – it’s a wonderful way to impress all your guests.
For the Fish and Chips:
- 400g potatoes
- 300ml beer
- 200g flour
- 2 fresh fillets of cod or haddock
- 500ml sunflower oil
For the Mushy Peas:
- 300g fresh peas or petite pois
- 40g butter
- Handful of fresh mint
For the Tartare Sauce:
- 300ml mayonnaise
- 2 hard boiled chopped eggs
- 50g capers
- Small handful of chopped fennel tops
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- Half a lemon
- Slice the potatoes so they’re 3cm thick.
- Blanch in boiling water for about a minute. Drain and leave to dry.
- Warm oil to 140°C. Add the chips and fry for roughly five minutes. Remove the chips and lay out on kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.
- Next, heat the oil to 180°C. Return chips to the oil for a couple of minutes until crispy and golden, drain and put back.
- Season the fish. In a large bowl, add 200g of plain flour with seasoning of salt. Pour the beer in gradually and beat flour with plenty of beer so its texture becomes lump-free, like double cream.
- Immerse the fish in the mixture, then into the oil at 160°C for a few minutes until crispy and golden. Drain and lay on kitchen towel temporarily before serving.
- Boil peas for a few minutes and drain. Combine butter and chopped mint to peas. Squash peas with back of spoon and serve.
- Juice half a lemon. Then, in a bowl, mix together all the ingredients, adding more mayonnaise as needed.
The cornerstone of Great British culture – crispy cod and chips – isn’t quite as tricky to get right as you might think. Follow the above steps, and you’re guaranteed to make restaurant-worthy fish and chips right at home.
**This is a collaborative post**